Page:Economic Sophisms.djvu/38

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26
ECONOMIC SOPHISMS.

sufficient logic and power, they would reduce men, like snails, to a state of absolute isolation. Moreover, there is not one of their sophisms which, when submitted to the test of rigorous deductions, does not obviously tend to destruction and annihilation.


II. It is not true, in point of fact, that inequality of conditions existing between two similar branches of industry entails necessarily the ruin of that which is least favourably situated. On the turf, if one horse gains the prize, the other loses it; but when two horses are employed in useful labour, each produces a beneficial result in proportion to its powers; and if the more vigorous renders the greater service, it does not follow that the other renders no service at all. We cultivate wheat in all the departments of France, although there are between them enormous differences of fertility; and if there be any one department which does not cultivate wheat, it is because it is not profitable to engage in that species of culture in that locality. In the same way, analogy shows us that under the régime of liberty, in spite of similar differences, they produce wheat in all the countries of Europe; and if there be one which abandons the cultivation of that grain, it is because it is found more for its interest to give another direction to the employment of its land, labour, and capital. And why should the fertility of one department not paralyze the agriculturist of a neighbouring department which is less favourably situated? Because the economic phenomena have a flexibility, an elasticity, levelling powers, so to speak, which appear to have altogether escaped the notice of the protectionist school. That school accuses us of being given up to system; but it is the protectionists who are systematic in the last degree, if the spirit of system consists in bolstering up arguments which rest upon one fact instead of upon an aggregation of facts. In the example which we have given, it is the difference in the value of lands which compensates the difference in their fertility. Your field produces three times more than mine. Yes, but it has cost you ten times more, and I can still compete with you. This is the whole mystery. And observe, that superiority in some respects leads to inferiority in others. It is just because your land is more